Notes | Learning English by TED-Ed

Rasputin (1/10/2020)

Link: The mysterious life and death of Rasputin

“There would be no Lenin without Rasputin.” — Robert K. Massies

Grigori Rasputin (Monk, 1869 - 1916, Siberia) was a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, and gained considerable influence in late imperial Russia.

Felix Yusupov (Prince, 1887 - 1967) was a Russian aristocrat, prince and count from the Yusupov family. He is best known for participating in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin and marrying the niece of Tsar Nicholas II.

Tsar Nicholas II (/Zar … The Second/)

If all went as planned, his guest would be dead by morning.

How could a single monk be to blame for the fate of an empire?

If not for his conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church, …

Inspired by the humbled monks that wandered endlessly from holy site to holy site, he spent years on pilgrimages across Russia.

  • pilgrimage
    • n./v. A journey to a sacred place or shrine
    • n./v. A long journey or search.

On his travels, strangers were captivated by Rasputin’s magnetic presence.

Despite Rasputin’s heavy drinking, petty theft, and promiscuity, …

  • petty = trivial
  • promiscuity = mess; promiscuous sexual relations

He attracted both laypeople and powerful Orthodox clergymen.

  • laypeople / layman / laywoman
    • A person who is not a member of the clergy
    • A person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field

Nicholas and his wife Alexandra devoutly believed in the Orthodox Church, as well as in mysticism and supernatural powers, and this Siberian holy man had them transfixed.

  • transfix
    • 使呆住;动弹不得
      • Her eyes were transfixed with terror.
      • For hours he stood transfixed.

It was a particularly tumultuous period for Russia and their family. The monarchy was barely clinging to control.

Their political struggles were only intensified by personal turmoil.

Alexei, the heir to the throne, had a life-threatening blood disease called hemophilia. (血友病)

cement someone’s belief in …

… guaranteeing his privileged place on the royal court.

Today, we know that the doctors had prescribed aspirin, a drug that worsens hemophilia.

People had mixed views on …

… amplifying their often-unheard voice to the monarchy.

He served Rasputin a number of pastries, believing they contained cyanide.

  • pastry 点心;油酥饼糕
  • cyanide /ˈsaɪəˌnaɪd/ 氰化物

… had a change of heart … 突然变心 / 改变主意

In desperation, he shot Rasputin at point-blank range.

  • point-blank 平时的、近距离的;断然地

… punch his attackers …

Yusupov and his accomplices pursued him, finally killing Rasputin with a bullet to the forehead, and dumping his body in the Malaya Nevka river.

  • accomplice 共犯

Just as Rasputin prophesied, his murder was swiftly followed by death of the royal family.

  • in the making
    • in the process of developing or being made

Hat Riddle (1/21/2020)

Link: Can you solve the prisoner hat riddle?

  • overlord
    • 霸主、巨头
    • 旧时的君主

You will be placed in a single-file line facing forward in size order.

  • single file
    • n. A line of people (also called Indian file) or things standing one behind the other.
    • adv. single-file

If at least nine of you guess correctly, you’ll all be spared.

So what meaning can be assigned to those words that will allow everyone else to deduce their hat colors?

Let’s see how it would play out if the hats were distributed like this.

It looks like these aliens will have to go hungry, or find some less logical organisms to abduct.

  • abduct
    • v. 诱拐、绑架
    • n. abduction / n. abductor